Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sunday at Silver Springs Nature Park

For those of you who are not familiar with the Silver Springs Nature Park, it is located just east of Ocala, Fl in the town of Silver Springs. The park is absolutely beautiful and is the home of the largest artesian spring formation in the world, producing 550 million gallons of crystal clear water daily.

The family arrived at the park about 10:30 Sunday morning and spent a very educational and fun day in one of Florida's most beautiful parks. Here are some of the pictures that tell the story of our day.
By the year 1950 the park was getting over 800,000 visitors/year.

The park is also home to a Wildlife Rehabilitation Program which rescues and rehabilitates animals that have been injured in the wild. Many of the animals and birds we saw today were rehabed in this program.
You never go to Florida without seeing our aligators.
Reeves Muntjac Deer - Only grows to an average of 20" and weighs only 30-40 lbs. Elongated teeth resemble tusks.

This is the East African Crowned Crane
The beautiful flamingos
These two are 'fearless!!!!

It looks like the gators mouth comes right through the glass! Dalton remains fearless!!

This was one of the rescured birds - who's wing was damanged.

This was the bumpiest ride ever!!! But we had fun seeing a multitude of animals on this Safari Ride and some pretty crazy trees!


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After the giraffe feeding we made our way to the only ride, other than the three boat rides, and this one takes you high above the park. While I am not comfortable with anything that goes HIGH......I joined Crystal and the kids, and spent my time taking some aerial shots instead of looking down.

As we tourned the springs on the world famous glass bottom boat and saw the amazing springs and underwater caves we were amazed at the beauty of the area. I'm sure that many of you will remember these programs and movies, but I'll bet a lot of you did not know they were all filmed here at Silver Springs. Here is just a portion of the list:

More than 100 episodes of Sea Hunt with Lloyd Bridges
Six Tarzan Movies
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Smokey and the Bandit
Never Say Never Again... with Sean Connery
And then the trip back home. After spending nearly six hours walking the park the kids still had lots of energy. Dalton begged to go play pickleball, and Chauna wanted to go swimming instead. We were both pretty exhausted, but hey - how often do we get this opportunity? So we dressed for swimming and went to play pickleball. After about 4 games, it began to thunder. We saw the ligntening so had to head for home instead of the swimming pool .
After dinner it was more card games. But we were in dreamland by about 9:00 pm.
They headed on to Lakeland on Monday morning to visit with Crystal's family. We feel so blessed to have such a wonderful family and the opportunity to share such special moments with them. After visiting with family they will make a short trip to Palm Beach before heading home to Davenport, IA. Until next time.............we'll have to share pictures.

Not hard to tell how much they tired us out! We are generally up by 6:30 in the morning. Neither of us pulled out today until after 9!

Day One - Part II-

Transportation to and from wherever we were going was the next issue to resolve. A trip to the park was planned for the next day and we really wanted to find a way to travel in one vehicle. Which vehicle would best hold four of us in the back seat?

Next on the agenda was eating - so we did a trial run with seating arrangements, using Denny's SUV, with Rich and I and the two kids in the back seat. And we headed out to Steak and Shake for dinner. After the meal there was some discussion about getting dessert, which somehow we were able to get out of. What kids don't ask for dessert? I had forgotten to tell the kids that we had cake and ice cream at home for later - but it was for a special occassion that we could not discuss at the dinner table!!

The four of us in the back seat worked well - so after dinner we decided to head for the town center at Sumter Landing, just to get out for a few minutes and enjoy the walk and scenery and whatever else might be going on there. Now, the major mode of transportation here at The Villages is the golf cart, and I think Crystal more than anyone else was thoroughly entertained by watching them travel along the paths and looking for the most interesting models! "Did you see that one?" was a phrase we all got used to hearing. "That one has doors!" was one of my favorites.

As we walked along the streets of the town center, there was one large building where the entire outside walls were stone. Rich and Denny had walked ahead, and the two kids and I had stopped to wait for Crystal.
And nestled between the stones we found this nest of very busy bees. I even managed to catch this picture without disturbing one of them!! The Sumter Landing tour boat appeared to be running tonight, so we stopped by to see what time the next boat was leaving. A nice casual, relaxing ride around the lake would be great. But once again Mother Nature sent us the threat of a storm. We were informed that if there was no more thunder (or lightening) for the next 1/2 hour that the boat would go out. So we decided to walk along the board walk while we were waiting.

Love this sign - but it definately did NOT apply to the two angels that were with us!!! But we all noticed the sign as we looked over the edge of the dock into the water. We watched the fish, and the turtles put on a pretty good show for us.

The stormy weather persisted, and the thunder continued, so the family smiled for the camera quickly before we headed back to the house.
Crystal will be celebrating her birthday this week, and since she would not be with us on her special day - we decided we should celebrate anyway. I had gotten so caught up enjoying my time with the family that I had forgotten to take the cake out of the freezer. So we needed better than an hour to allow it to defrost. The kids wanted to play cards, so Crystal and I joined them at the table, while the guys took off to the living room, turned on the baseball game. ( Denny and the family are Braves fanS - YUK! But we let him watch the game as long as he switched it back to the Rays periodically to catch the score). But the guys can do more than one think at a time, so Rich was doing his Killer Suduko and Denny was on his Blackberry!Posted by Picasa

Chauna convinced her mom they should go for a walk, to give Gramma- Do time to get the cake and ice cream ready. By now I think that Crystal had figured out that something was going on - but was not sure just what. We managed to keep the candles from dripping on the cake until they returned - and Crystal smiled in surprise as she came through the door. She blew out the candles and began to cut the cake. SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY - DEAR DAUGHTER-IN-LAW.

After cake and ice cream, it was back to the table for some more games. Here we are playing 21, but the rest of the night was Spite and Malice! Hearing our laughter - Pa Pa grabbed the camera. And we played and we laughed and switched seats for luck and we giggled at times so hard we almost cried.
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"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter"
E.E. Cummings

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Love of Family flows Strong and Deep......

.....Leaving us memories to forever treasure and keep.

Dennis and the family arrived early on Saturday, July 24th for just a short visit. We packed so much into the next two days. Seeing the grandchildren about took our breath away...........they have grown so much since we last saw them. So handsome, and so beautiful!

Rich took the first opportunity he could to get the grandkids all to himself.

Here they are returning from a short ride with Pa Pa to pick up the mail. Not sure who's enjoying this more - the kids or Pa Pa??

After settling in - we did a quick lunch and then we all ended up watching the original Karate Kid movie. Both Dalton and Chauna have taken Karate - but they had never seen the original movie.

Miyagi say: "First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature rule, Daniel-san, not mine." Here is Dalton-san and Chauna-san learning to fly!!! From this time on we were PaPa-sen and Gramma Do-sen.

After Karate - we moved on to pickleball. We had taught Dennis and Crystal and the kids to play during our last visit to Davenport, IA. It was time to see how much they remembered. Pa Pa loaded the kids in the golf cart and the rest of us rode to the courts at the Churchill Rec Center. It was HOT...............but we persevered!
Dalton - listening intently as Pa Pa reviews the rules of the game.
And Chauna does the same - and is anxious to get the game started.

It's Dalton and his Dad ready to take on their opponants................

And Miss Chauna serves to start the game....
Dalton watches closely as his Dad returns the ball..........

And Chauna returns the ball with her backhand shot. And who won? They all had a great time and played like champions. Dalton is a natural - he picked up the game quickly and he had some pretty awesome shots. Over the two days, Chauna was getting more and more good shots.

Next it was father against son. Denny challenged his dad to a singles game. And he really did score some points!

Great game guys. Not hard to tell they are father and son is it? Priceless............

And yes, I did get to play too. Chauna and I challenged Dalton and Pa Pa - a couple of games. And then Dennis and I took to the courts for a singles match. By the sixth point I was about DEAD!!!!

Meanwhile, the kids were goofing off with Mom on the sidelines!
And Rich catches me exhausted as Denny and I leave the court. He really is not that tall is he? Don't they say you get shorter as you age? Is it possible that I am really this old?
A quick change of clothes, rinse off in the shower and into the pool.

With the blistering temperatures, the water was far from refreshing!

But it felt great to get wet and goof off in the water for a while.

After a good while of frolicking the clouds began to approach and we heard thunder off in the distance. With the lightening not far behind, it was time to call it a day and head for home.
Head for home - Yes
Call it a Day - Not yet!!!Posted by Picasa

"A grandfather is someone with silver in his hair and gold in his heart."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Visit to Legacy of Leesburg

The weather here in Florida has been brutal! The heat index during the days has been as high as 105 degrees! When we left Wednesday morning for Leesburg the sky was a little overcast, and we commented on the way that it would be nice if it would stay that way, at least for the morning.

As we headed along 27/441 in Leesburg, or first stop was at McDonalds for a $1 breakfast buttito and coffee. Well.................neither of us had brought any MONEY!!! Fortunately - we realized this BEFORE we stopped, so I went digging through my pickleball bag. I have this very bad habit of just dropping change in the bottom of my bag or purse, and Rich is always giving me a hard time about all the coins I carry around and never spend. Well today it paid off. Fortunately we had brought coffee with us, so all we needed was $2.14! YES!!! I actually found $2.27! And so we feasted on our gourmet burrito!

And then we continued on.............

Legacy is an active retirement community located just south of Leesburg, Fl. and adjacent to Highland Lakes, where we have visited a number of times. Legacy appears to be a much newer community than Highland Lakes - it is advertised as a "premier retirement community". It is definately a beautiful place to live with excellent facilities. And the town center features the 30 ft Clock Tower which is really pretty impressive.

The clinic was scheduled to begin at 10:00 am. Some of the participants were out on the court playing when we arrived - and despite the heat, some of them actually stayed for the Clinic. Unfortunately - the cloud cover was gone and we all baked in the heat of the sun for the next couple of hours!

They only had two courts so the number that actually participated in the clinic was limited to 12. Above Rich addresses the group and then gets them on the courts practicing the forehand and backhand groundstrokes.

Here the group takes turns practicing "dink shots" and lobs.............

And everyon's favorite - "the third shot".
They all agreed to stay for just a few minutes longer for a group picture. That's Bill Leach kneeling in the front next to Rich. He's the one who planned the clinic and invited us in. It was a really fun morning, despite the weather. A really nice group of people.

By about 12:15 we were ready to head back. We grabbed a couple of bottles of water for the ride home ( Remember - we don't have any MONEY!). Rich debated on whether to head back out for pickleball at La Hacienda, but decided to take the day off. (That does not happen very often!!!). By 1:30 he was sound asleep in the recliner, when the phone rang.
Denny had just returned from his trip to California, and was finalizing plans for their trip here. Needed some final directions on how to get to the villa here at The Villages. Can't wait.!! They should be arriving about 8:00 on Saturday morning.
Actually - we were both kind of lazy today and made it a day of rest. That meant I didn't have to cook either. So we headed out for the Red Sauce Restaurant down in Sumter Landing. $1 beer during happy hour, and $7 pasta specials from 4-6pm. The meals are great, with really good portions for the price. Tonight was $7 Pizza night - where you could get any pizza on the menu (with no changes) for just $7. We saw several of them go by - and they looked great, but we opted for the speghetti and meatballs and ziti with a salad. We'd had that before and knew it was excellent. And it was excellent tonight too!
Back home and the end of another day in Paradise.